Stop Doing So Much Cardio and Do This Instead
When it comes to losing weight, toning up and transforming your body shape it’s all about cardio, right?
Fitness experts, personal trainers the press and everyone in between has long been espousing cardio as the Holy Grail for all things peak fitness. Want to see results? Get on the treadmill – it’s as simple as that.
Cardiovascular exercises that get the heart beating faster, speed up the metabolism, increase strength in the heart and lungs and up endurance have always been seen as the dieter’s best friend. From cycling and rowing to aerobics and running: cardio is king.
But speak to these same experts today and chances are they’ll tell you that while cardio is still an essential part of burning calories, keeping fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, they’ll tell you about something else as well – lifting weights.
But can lifting weights really match up to cardio, and should you be incorporating it into your workouts? Let’s take a look…
Is Resistance Training The New Cardio?
Debate still rages on as to whether lifting weights can actually be better than cardio for fat loss, but the answer to this question really depends on what you’re looking to get out of your exercise regime.
Lots of people do cardio, for example, to lose weight, but what they actually mean is to lose fat while maintaining any lean muscle – losing lean muscle would mean a slower metabolism and a less athletic look. In other words, maintaining muscle is super important, and should always be viewed as important as fat loss.
With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at some pros and cons of cardio and resistance training.
Cardio: pros and cons
Pros – lots of low intensity options like walking, meaning fewer barriers to entry; sky-high calorie burn (that drops of shortly afterwards) and less need for rest.
Cons – running, the default cardio option, is easy to overdo and often results in injury; cardio is more difficult for unfit people to undertake; moderate sustained cardio can worsen hormonal imbalance and it’s hard to shape the physique you want using only cardio.
Resistance training: pros and cons
Pros – low barrier to entry for those who are unfit; offers muscle growth and fat loss simultaneously; ups muscle mass quickly and triggers a sustained spike in metabolism that burns calories even after working out.
Cons – lower minute-by-minute calorie burn than cardio; has a higher barrier to recovery so sessions are limited in time, and can have a big impact on hunger levels.
Cardio vs. Weight training – Which Is Best?
For us, the answer to this question is pretty easy – weight training rocks.
And the reason why couldn’t be simpler: lifting weights offers all the (many) benefits of cardio, but the vast majority of the fat loss benefits achieved through cardio can be hit simply by reducing calorie intake. You simply get more from resistance training.
So does that mean you can ditch the cardio all together? Actually, we don’t recommend that at all – it really isn’t a case of one of the other, which each exercise option offering myriad unique benefits to the body. What you should be looking at for maximum results is a heavy, resistant-focus weight training program that’s complemented by low intensity cardio. Or if that doesn’t float your boat, you could try hybrid training whereby you include both high intensity resistance training and cardio into the same workout.
One thing’s for sure – resistance training sees real results, so stop doing so much cardio and do some weights instead!